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What is Mole, from Mexico? Chocolate, Spice and More
One version of Mole Poblano Sauce
Mole and chicken, yum!
An Example of Mole Used in a Recipe
Mole, a wonderful sauce
What exactly is Mole?
Mole basically means a combination of ingredients mixed together. It is pronounced "moe lay". I had no idea how many different varieties there were, from different regions, and even how many different colors there were until I researched it more. Its a wonderful part of Mexican cuisine, and if you have never tried it, I highly recommend you do at least once. It is an experience in and of itself. Chocolate dates way back in recipes like stews and salsas in Mexico. You can find it in many more restaurants now, more than I ever remember growing up. So this great idea is continuing to grow in popularity in regards to making Mexican dishes better and better.
Some of My Experiences with Mole
I have a dear friend, who was born in Mexico City and whose parents lived for a wile in Oaxaca Mexico. After they came back to the states, I was privileged enough to taste many authentic Mexican dishes. Having lived in Southern California for all my life up to that time, I thought I knew what good Mexican food was. Turns out I had barely begun to learn about the diversity of Mexican Cuisine. Its a wonderful and amazing cuisine, and mole was something new and wonderful to try. I recall first being offered some authentic mole sauce, and I looked at my friend a little curious, and she said, "there is even chocolate in it! Try it, you will love it." So I did, and was amazed at the layers of flavors and level of richness. It lends incredible flavor to anything it is used with.
Different Types of Mole and Regional Influences
While mole often conjures up images of a rich chocolatey type of sauce, sometimes you can find moles that have no chocolate in them at all. For example, in certain parts of Mexico, like Oaxaca (where my dear friend is from) and Puebla, the percentage of chocolate in the mole sauces is really very minimal. They do use a lot of different colored dried chiles however, which imparts a color similar to the chile itself. I love that my husband is trying to incorporate more ideas with chiles we grow ourselves into sauces like these. I am more of a gardener than a cook sometimes, so I leave the cooking of rich recipes like these up to him.
Depending on the region, you will find different moles in Mexico. The simpler every day kinds of moles are called molitos. In Michoacan, you won't likely find people putting sweet things into their sauces. Even the time of the year you can find variances in the mole sauces that you will come across in Mexico. That makes sense with the use of fresh ingredients so often and times of harvest, etc.
My friends mother that first served me mole, made the more dark and rich mole with spicy chocolate in it. There are however, different colors like green, or verde, and yellow moles as well. The kind I am most used to, from Oaxaca, is the black mole.
I hope to try more mole recipes very soon. The next one I would like to make would be a simple one with cinnamon, cloves, garlic, onion and maybe some freshly ground peppercorns.
If you have never tried it, do try it. Don't be put off by the fact it may not look like anything you have tried before, or that it can sometimes have a uniqu consistency and very dark color to it. It is wonderful.